What Happens if You Violate Terms of Your Probation in California?

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If you violate probation in California, serious consequences can follow. When placed on probation, it’s crucial to adhere strictly to the specified terms to avoid a probation violation. Fulfilling all probation requirements can lead to a petition for discharge, where the court reviews your compliance and makes a decision.

However, a violation of probation in California can result in your probation being revoked and a harsher sentence imposed. It’s essential to comply with all probation conditions, including scheduled meetings with your probation officer. Regular home visits from your probation officer might be part of the terms, aimed at assessing your living environment and ensuring compliance.

Building a cooperative relationship with your probation officer can help you avoid a probation violation and reduce the risk of reoffending. Adhering to probation terms not only aids in clearing your record but also helps you move forward positively. Always remain accessible and committed to meeting the conditions set forth by the court.

California Penal Code § 1203.3

California Penal Code § 1203.3  governs the judgment of the terms of probation and how the court has the authority “to revoke, modify, or change its order of suspension of imposition or execution of sentence.” This part generally concerns the dismissal of the remaining part of probation, due to good behavior.

Should you be required to serve a term of that probation in prison, and you do not show up, your probation is revoked if it appears you cannot be found. You will also have a sentence imposed on you, other than probation, particularly if your crime was considered a wobbler, as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Flash Incarceration

Flash incarceration, as described by California Penal Code § 3454, is a term between one to 10 days spent in jail for an infraction of one of your terms of probation. For example, if you are found in an area where you should not be, as per the terms of your probation, you can be immediately detained as punishment by flash incarceration in a city or county jail.

Most courts will review beforehand as to the circumstances surrounding the situation and how it may adversely affect the probationer’s situation at work and home. A suitable term is then decided for the length of the flash incarceration.

Beverly’s Dilemma: A Scenario

Beverly Beals (not her real name) was on probation for a first-time offense of DUI for a BAC reading of 0.08 percent. She had started out from home to meet with her probation officer for this month, as part of her terms of probation.

On the way there, her 18-year-old car sustained a burst hose under the hood and she was now stuck on the side of the road. She called her probation officer to let him know her situation.

As her home was just outside the city, the probation officer contacted the county sheriff to send someone over to oversee the situation and to bring Beverly in for the meeting. In the meantime, Beverly called her roadside car assistance group to come to tow her car to the nearest car garage. Beverly, while late to the meeting, did make it there to see her probation officer.

Beverly did the right thing to meet her obligations by calling her probation officer, which eliminated any possible punishment.

Take Control of Your Defense: Expert Guidance for Probation Violations

Facing a probation violation? Secure expert legal assistance today. Contact our experienced probation violation lawyers online or call us now for a consultation.

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Probation Violation California FAQs

What are some ways probation can be violated?

Probation can be violated in several ways, including failing to meet with a probation officer as scheduled, missing court-ordered classes or counseling sessions, testing positive for drugs or alcohol, committing a new crime, traveling out of state without permission, and failing to pay fines or restitution as required.

What happens at a probation violation hearing?

At a probation violation hearing, the judge reviews evidence to determine if the probation terms were violated. Both the prosecution and defense can present evidence and call witnesses. If the judge finds a violation occurred, consequences may include additional probation conditions, extended probation, or revocation of probation, potentially resulting in jail or prison time.

How are probation hearings different from criminal trials?

Probation hearings differ from criminal trials in several ways. They are typically less formal, and the burden of proof is lower; instead of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard is usually a “preponderance of evidence.” There is no jury; a judge alone makes the decision. Additionally, the focus is on whether probation terms were violated rather than determining guilt for a new crime.

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Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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